A couple of thoughts about bracing
As an adult living with scoliosis my preference is to avoid using any health aids that interfere with my mobility. If I break my leg (hopefully not) I won't mind having it in a cast, but for my scoliosis care I would rather use my own resources. This opinion comes from my work with those of my clients who have used physical supports of one form or another. In my experience the more supports a person uses the more stiff their body becomes. Many of our metabolic processes are aided by movement, so to restrict it, even in the hopes of helping a particular issue, seems problematic.
An indirect answer to the question of strengthening:
Our proprioception, our neuro-muscular communication and the shape and tone of our soft tissues and hard tissues are all involved with one another. The body works as a whole system. It seems that there is a vicious cycle going on in a progressing case of (AIS) scoliosis, which affects and is affected by our whole body system, and especially the parts I've just listed. The vicious cycle could be described in various ways. Let's start the cycle from a neurological dysfunction, as this is one of the causes of scoliosis that is currently being put forward by researchers.
A neurological dysfunction renders my proprioception inaccurate in a certain way.
This error of proprioception gives my muscles wrong information about how my body parts are positioned in relation to gravity.
As a result, my muscles slowly develop a habit of working asymmetrically.
As a result of my asymmetrical muscle use, my entire skeleton begins to gradually shift (scoliosis can be seen in the ribs, pelvis and limbs as well as the spine)
As these changes are all gradual we don't notice them in ourselves and even our family often don't notice them until the condition has progressed significantly.
Here is where the vicious cycle gathers momentum:
Our body has slowly adapted to a new status quo. Now our idea of upright is inaccurate and gravity is working on us in a disadvantageous way.
Our habits of moving, which have formed in relation to inaccurate proprioception, exacerbate the asymmetries of our structure (this is something that can be observed in any person with scoliosis). In short:
Inaccurate proprioception - -> asymmetrical muscle activity - -> asymmetrical movement habits - -> asymmetrical skeleton - -> reinforcing of inaccurate proprioception.
Our goal then is to break this vicious cycle and start creating a positive cycle. I am working at the moment on starting to break the cycle with proprioception. My positive cycle is attempting this:
Improve accuracy of proprioception - -> muscle activity is more balanced - -> movement habits are more balanced - -> we can begin to unwind the twists in our skeleton - -> "teaching our proprioception" what balanced really is.
I work on myself with the above goal in mind and these three approaches:
Mirror work (I spend time sitting and standing while adjusting my body to be more symmetrical. I use mirrors to make sure I am making appropriate changes)
Lessons in the Alexander Technique (proprioception help and help in changing my long-held movement habits)
Manual therapy (I go to a structural integration practitioner, but I don't think that's the only kind of manual therapy that can work)
Joshua, thanks for your reply I just saw. I believe you have explained the main scoliosis vicious cycle in great way. Heuter-Volkmann Law is not the only one.. I also thinks in pain and emotional vicious cycles. You really have clear concepts and know how to applied its. It really not surprises me a reduction of your curve.
Sure braces has a very negative side as you said, but keeping the spine straight, I believe should to be fastest way to break the main scoliosis vicious cycle if it would be possible to avoid the side effects that something like a brace has. Some people said me that after surgery, they have troubles to walk, because the postural image that their brain had of their body not corresponded with their new posture. After some time, the postural image was adapted, so it was the outcome of having the spine straight all the time. Also an improvement in tissues should to occur. The Heuter-Volkmann Law should to be reverted or stopped in some way, the stretching in the ligaments and muscles (I think it might to be the worst) and also discs compression because the gravity lateral force applied in the concave side of the spine should to be reduced. I believe that also muscle activity and movement habits should to be more balanced.
I believe that something as the inclined plane http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...exercise/page7 post #99 should to maintain straight the spine without side effects.. at least no so much as a brace... Iím just thinking now that a great exercise should be trying to keep the spine straight while the plane is standing up.. then remains a long time stand ..and then trying walk!???